Monthly Archives: June 2016

Teenagers in relationship


Revealing the secret world of adolescent boys and girls.

Rory’s parents had discovered that Rory was sexually active and wanted to know how to handle his request to have Jen (his girlfriend) “sleep over” when they were planning to be out of town. They decided to talk it over with someone because they had different opinions. When Rory, who was now seventeen, had posed the question, he had told his parents that he had seen me and suggested that they call me.

Waiting between sessions, I could hear Susan’s and Mike’s raised voices on the path to my office as I sat working at my desk.

“This is the door to her office.”

“No, this way, over there!”

After a few minutes of this I decided to stand at my entryway to guide them.

Mike was a tall man with the same broad shoulders as his son, the football player. He looked like he knew where he was going, but he had already passed my office and was opening the door to the toolshed. Susan was still at the very top of the path. She was on her hands and knees, admiring an English ivy pushing its way out between two rocks. I thought she might be trying to take a cutting. I waved them both in.

Hurrying around my largest tree, Mike arrived first and shook my hand vigorously. “You need to post a map out there just to get around your backyard!”

“Good idea, it can be pretty confusing,” I said.

As we sat down inside, I could see what Rory meant when he said that his parents were in different places. Mike coughed and complained loudly for several minutes while Susan cleaned off her ivy cutting in the bathroom. She seemed oblivious to her husband’s frustration with the delay.

“That’s an unknown ivy, Dr. Ponton, very unusual. Thanks for letting me take some.”

Although Mike appeared eager to begin, I sensed that it would take some work with this set of parents to move into the topic of their son’s sexual behavior. And I was right. Nearly half the session went by before we were even close to the subject.

Then Mike let me know exactly what he was thinking. “It’s against my values to ever have this kid sleeping with some girl at our house. He says he’s not going to have sex, but you can’t trust him, Susan.”

“Mike, it’s his choice, his body. You can’t control everyone,” said Susan in a frosty voice that hid more than anger.

Relationship in needed

Much too often in life, I have come across couples or one person in a couple who complained about the significant other in their life not listening to them. These people often hear, but do not listen. And this single point is what brings about the downfall of a good portion of relationships today.

Listening skills are not automatic. We grow up communicating very differently from one another, depending on a wide range of factors, gender being just one of them. But gender is usually the easiest to focus our attention on because the generalizations made about the genders hold a grain of truth in their words for all of us. “He’d rather watch football than talk to me.” “She’d rather talk on the phone with her girlfriends than go out with me.” “He’d rather go out on a night with the ‘guys’ than go out to dinner with me.” “She’d rather go shopping than go golfing with me.” And so on… Even if not always or true, we look at these examples, and things like them, and realize, “Hey, yeah, there’s a bit of me in there.” That’s why comedians so often use gender-related material to make their jokes — it’s easy, it’s usually clean, and everyone can relate to some degree to what is being made fun of.

But here’s the truth of the matter. In a typical generalization, men and women are brought up and learn completely different ways of communicating with one another. (A good book to read more about these differences and how you can overcome them is, Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus. by John Gray) It’s not that he or she isn’t listening, it’s that you’re often trying to communicate with each other in incompatible ways!

The sexes up to this point get along well, we believe, until they actually settle into a long-term relationship where these differences become more obvious over time. Men and women simply have different values regarding relationships, as well as vastly different ways of dealing with stress and emotional issues. Men tend to hold their emotions in, letting them simmer, and then sometimes explode in pain or anger. They typically find it more difficult to discuss and express their emotions. Women, on the other hand, can more freely and easily express their emotions and what they’re feeling at any given moment. Men and women alike will turn to outside activities, like working-out or excercise, as a means of dealing with stress or emotions. This is a healthy response. However, the differences men and women have communicating are often glossed over in the beginning stages of a relationship, even during the first few months. But over time, they become more and more apparent.

It would be demeaning and ultimately pointless of me to repeat the stereotypes so often heard about what each sex values in a relationship, since people’s personal preferences vary widely. But I will take a moment to dispel one myth — monogamy is not a more natural preference for either sex. It has often been said that women were more likely to be monogamous than men, but recent research shows this to be an untrue assumption.

The upshot of this information is simple — learning to communicate open and freely with your significant other in a relationship is the key to a happy relationship. Some general tips:

  • Expressing feelings as your own is important. Do not put them onto the other person in an accusatory manner, as in, “I can’t help it I’m angry. You’re the one who forgot to go grocery shopping.”.
  • Listen carefully to what the other person is telling you about how they feel, and learning to respond to and validate their feelings. Many couples see this as a time to argue about whether one’s feelings are right or justified. There are no such things. All feelings are right and justified to the person feeling them and one needs to learn to respect that basic truth. For instance:Wrong:
    • “Bob, I’m very hurt right now. What you said was very mean.”
    • “I’m mean?! What about you!? You’re just being a big baby now.”Better:
    • “Bob, I’m very hurt right now. Your words were very painful for me to hear.”
    • “I understand that you’re hurt… and I’m very angry as well, which is why I may have said what I did. I’m sorry.”
  • Understand that no one wins or loses an argument. Life is not a game and you don’t get a second chance. All you have “won” in an argument is additional resentment on the part of your significant other. Arguments feel better when they are a draw and you both come away from it understanding the other’s position and feelings more fully, with your respect intact.
  • Place yourself in the other person’s shoes and try and see their perspective. This is extremely difficult for some people to do, because they cannot get away from their own feelings, even for a second. But by learning to do so, one can get a better sense of where that person is coming from and what may be motivating them to say or feel certain things.

Marriage Counseling Tips

Couples and Marriage Counseling

When the Beatles wrote, “All you need is love à” they should have added, “and the wisdom to work through tough times, even if it means seeking professional help.” This is because counseling can be a relationship-saving resource for couples. Couples counseling is also known as marriage counseling or marriage therapy when the two people involved are married.

When Counseling Can Help

Perhaps blowups between you and your partner are occurring more regularly. Or ongoing sticky issues and irritations are causing increased tension and resentment. If you have had little success working through relationship issues, find yourselves avoiding each other, or using hostile words or actions that cause emotional or physical hurt, professional counseling may help.

Sleep or sexual problems, extreme moodiness or feelings of dissatisfaction, loneliness, sadness or failure also can be clues that something is wrong. Couples counseling can uncover the underlying issues.

There may be external factors that can add stress to your relationship, including:

  • Birth or adoption of a child
  • Step-parenting
  • Infertility
  • Chronic illness or disability
  • Substance abuse
  • Infidelity
  • Financial problems
  • Career pressures

Professional counseling can help you learn coping strategies for such periods of transition or stress.

Finding a Therapist

Your local mental health association, family doctor, clergy or friends are good referral sources. Look for someone whose education and training best fits your needs and situation. For example, a gay couple may benefit from a counselor experienced in dealing with gay/lesbian issues. Make sure your chosen therapist is licensed by the state or accredited by a professional organization.

What to Expect from Therapy

Most couples meet with their therapist once a week for about an hour each session. Generally, therapy lasts for about 12 to 20 sessions. During the first session, the therapist will review the therapeutic process, confidentiality and cost. She will become acquainted with you and your partner and the problems that brought you to counseling. She will ask many questions to understand your lives and relationship as best as possible. Both you and your partner should feel comfortable talking with your counselor.

Couples counseling is different than family therapy or individual psychotherapy. In family therapy, the focus is on helping the family figure out the large problems within the entire family (including children), and helping them to find fixes (such as improving communication). In individual psychotherapy, the focus is on a single person. While that person may talk about their relationships in session, the relationships are not usually the primary focus of the counseling.